Small Business Owners Stage Reopen Rally In Ramona

Dozens rally on Main Street and say big businesses are being given an unfair advantage

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Dozens of small business owners in Ramona held a sidewalk rally on Main Street on Thursday to call attention to their frustration at being closed by stay-at-home orders. The so-called Reopen Ramona rally drew community members, who waved flags and held signs as honking drivers passed by.

“I’m totally confident that we can open safely if the government allows us,” said Peter San Nicolas, who organized the rally.

San Nicolas owns the Ramona Fitness Center, which has been temporarily forced to close. He said he had to lay off 20 employees.

Gyms and salons are currently categorized as a high-risk workplaces by the state, but San Nicolas said they could actually be made safer than many bigger businesses that have been allowed to stay open.

The prevailing argument among the rally attendees is that smaller businesses have much more control over what happens inside their locations, and, if they have a solid re-opening plan that follows strict sanitation guidelines, what makes them any more dangerous than bigger businesses that are allowed to stay open?

“Big businesses like Home Depot, the grocery store, Costco -- if they can implement these safety procedures, we can do it as well,” San Nicolas said.

Aleigha Elston shares the sentiment. She bought Salon Blondies in February, only to be forced to close several weeks later. She argues that employees at her hair salon are already trained in keep a safe and clean work environment.

“The fact that other business can open before someone that is trained in that already, on a regular basis, is just kind of bogus to me,” Elston said.

Elston outlined her safe reopening plan, which includes limiting the number of clients to no more than six at a time, spreading out work stations and limiting stylists' hours.     

“The curve is flattened, the hospitals are ready, we’re ready to get back to business, we’re ready to get back to normal life, and I don’t see why we can’t,” Elston said.

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